Syrian army encircles Daesh militants in desert: monitor

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Updated 24 August 2017
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Syrian army encircles Daesh militants in desert: monitor

BEIRUT: Syrian troops backed by Russian warplanes completely surrounded fighters of the Daesh group in a vast central desert region on Thursday, a monitoring group said.
Advancing overnight, troops north and south of the Badiya desert area met up and seized Jabal Dahek, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
By encircling them, the government forces dealt a “strategic” blow to the Daesh jihadists, said the Britain-based Observatory.
They have been battling for months to retake the Badiya, which stretches from the country’s center to the Iraqi and Jordanian borders and has been held by Daesh since 2014.
Fighting was still raging between the two sides near Sukhnah, one of the main towns in the desert area.
Victory over Daesh in the region is seen as key to the army’s hopes of retaking Deir Ezzor, the last Syrian province that remains nearly completely under Daesh control.
The jihadists have long surrounded government forces in the province’s capital city, also named Deir Ezzor.
Analysts say the Syrian army needs to completely eliminate Daesh from the central part of the desert before it can attack Deir Ezzor, otherwise its troops would be exposed.
According to Fabrice Balanche, an expert on Syrian geography, the regime would have more than half of the country’s territory under its control if it can drive Daesh out of the Badiya.
More than 330,000 people have been killed since Syria’s conflict erupted in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar Assad.


Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

Updated 8 min 16 sec ago
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Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

  • Video clips circulating online show hundreds of security forces in Khartoum and more heading to nearby Omdurman
  • Longtime ruler Omar Al-Bashir insists there will be no change of leadership except through the ballot box

KHARTOUM: Sudanese police fired tear gas on Sunday at protesters ahead of a planned march on parliament in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, witnesses said.

Demonstrators chanting “freedom, peace and justice” began gathering in some areas of Omdurman but were quickly confronted by riot police with tear gas, the witnesses said.

Deadly protests which erupted on December 19 after a government decision to raise the price of bread have turned into nationwide rallies against President Omar Al-Bashir’s three decade rule.

Officials say at least 26 people, including two security personnel, have died during a month of protests, while rights group Amnesty International last week put the death toll at more than 40.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of trade unions that is leading the ongoing protest movement, called for fresh demonstrations on Sunday and several days over the coming week.

“We are calling for a march to parliament in Omdurman on Sunday,” it said in a statement.

“The protesters will submit to parliament a memorandum calling on President Bashir to step down,” added the association, which represents the unions of doctors, teachers and engineers.

Over the past month, protesters have staged several demonstrations in Omdurman.

The SPA said there will also be rallies in Khartoum on Sunday, to be followed by night-time demonstrations on Tuesday in the capital and in Omdurman.

“And on Thursday there will be rallies across all towns and cities of Sudan,” the statement added.